Owned by Nick and Jessica Smith
Nick Smith has always been a dreamer. Knowing what a great retail store feels like, he always wanted to own a retail space, a music store, an outdoor store, or a bike shop. Like most kids, he started riding bikes at a young age. He spent most of his summers riding his bike with friends up and down the hills of Jefferson City. In his early twenties, he started racing mountain bikes throughout Missouri, which only increased his desire to own a bicycle retail store. The combination of working an unsatisfying “normal” job, and being inspired by a friend who owned a bicycle shop at the Lake of the Ozark, prompted him to make the move and make his dream a reality.
In March of 2003, only after being married a year at the young age of 26, Nick and his wife, Jessica, secured a location on W. Truman Blvd. and opened Red Wheel Bike Shop. They started off small with one employee, Tom Sunkel, while Jessica worked Saturdays at the shop, completing paperwork in the evenings while teaching during the day, and Nick worked six days a week. As new business owners without business degrees, the pair navigated the struggles of distributors, cash flow, and just day to day operations of owning a small business — all while trying to build relationships and trust with their customers to ensure them Red Wheel would be there for the long haul as their bike shop. The best advice they received when opening a bike shop was if you want to be a millionaire as a bike shop owner, you start with $2 million and you’ll end with $1 million.
20 years later, Nick and Jessica have created a space Nick could only dream about as a kid. They still have their struggles of owning a small specialty retail store, however, the relationships they’ve built with customers in the community has helped weather the storms over the past two decades. After a couple moves, they now call The Millbottoms home, which has not only made them more accessible to the local community, but now they meet people from all of the country, and the world, as they use the Katy Trail to cross the state and visit the state’s capital.
Nick and Jessica have learned never to count the number of hours they work a week or the pay that comes home, but to be satisfied with that they’re living the dream. Their lives revolve around bicycles, whether that’s vacations to Colorado or simply riding their bikes with their son, Wyatt, on the Katy trail. Bicycling is an interval part of life that they truly enjoy sharing with others.
400 W. Main St., JCMO